Kristen Bryant-Thinking In A Lala College Sweatshirt

On Judging Judgement

Until the age of 14, I had an abundance of self-esteem. I never really thought about how others perceived me. I was loud, free-spirited, bright, and, looking back, quite obnoxious. I raised my hand constantly in class. I jumped at every opportunity to voice my opinion. 

When adolescence hit, my confidence took a dive. I was still proud of who I was and I was still outspoken in class. For the first time, however, I found myself constantly comparing myself to my peers, constantly trying to “fit in,” to “be liked,” and to “be normal.”

I was mortified at the idea of someone else thinking negative thoughts about me, criticizing me in any way, or (heaven forbid) bad-talking me behind my back. 

Original Illustration by Sketchify in Canva This made me quiet. I stopped raising my hand as much -- I was afraid of getting the answer wrong. This made me second-guess myself, asking “What will my classmates think?” with every haircut, every new pair of jeans, every time I shared out in class. 

And hey--empathy is good. Empathy is important; it’s a unique and fantastic trait to be able to consider how the people around you will react to the decisions that you make. However, obsessing over others’ thoughts and opinions is not helpful. It’s hurtful. 

Here’s an idea I want you to try with a close friend or family member. Sit next to one another, and tell them to think a thought -- any sort of thought -- about you. 

When they’re done, I want you to consider: did that thought affect you? Do you even know what they were thinking, whether it was positive or negative? No, you don’t know, and you never will. 

We will never know what others are thinking (which I am grateful for!). Don’t waste your time worrying about something you A) can never control and B) will never know. Instead, focus on your own thoughts and actions, and strive to use your own thoughts to create a positive environment for everyone around you. 

Love yourself written on wall Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst/Shopify While you’re at it, stop comparing yourself to others. As you move through the world, someone will always be better than you, and someone will always be “worse” than you. There are billions of people on this planet for crying out loud! It’s time to stop viewing yourself in comparison to them and attempt to be more introspective towards yourself instead. Don’t try to beat someone else’s mile time, try to improve your own. Strive for an unbridled sense of accomplishment and pride in your abilities, not in “beating” some arbitrary human in their own abilities. It sounds strange that way, I know! It’s helpful for me at least to remember that we are all humans on this planet, just doing our own thing!

I sincerely hope these sentiments will allow you to feel an increased sense of confidence, and newfound freedom to be fully and completely 100% YOU. 

Because hey, YOU are pretty awesome ;)